Designing special educational needs (SEN) schools can be a bit challenging if you’ve never done it before. There are certain things to consider and include in your designs that you wouldn’t necessarily think of for a typical school. Fortunately, we’ve done a lot of work on SEN schools and continue to work alongside architects and clients to make sure that the students have everything they could possibly need at their fingertips. Here are our 5 things to include in a SEN school.
1. Hygiene Rooms
Hygiene rooms should be located next to class bases (classrooms). Like a typical bathroom, hygiene rooms are spaces used by students and caregivers on a regular basis, so they should be conveniently placed around the building. We recommend that they’re directly next to a class base, with the ability to hoist through from one room to the other. We’ve found that the best option for coverage and easy transferring is by having two X-Y systems (one in the class base, one in the hygiene room) that are connected through a doorway. This allows students to have complete coverage of both areas. A ward screen should also be installed in hygiene rooms to maintain the privacy and dignity of the pupil.
2. Sensory Rooms
Sensory rooms are designed to give sensory stimulation and experiences to individuals with various learning and physical abilities. These rooms can help to develop skills like hand eye coordination as well as cause and effect amongst a wealth of other things. Including a sensory room (or several) is key to designing a good SEN school. You can include sensory bathrooms, soft play areas and gardens that will help pupils to develop their skills and enjoy a stimulating educational experience. Our friends at Rhino UK give great advice and support on all things to do with sensory rooms.
3. Hoists & Equipment
As we mentioned in the first section, a hoist is most certainly needed in a SEN school, as well as other various pieces of equipment. As with hygiene rooms, we recommend that a X-Y system be used in the class bases and other rooms where more flexible transferring solutions are needed. This will give full coverage of the area, meaning that students can be moved practically anywhere in the room.
SEN schools should also be equipped with Doc M packs, with various grab rails fitted around the school to help support the pupils. This includes having drop-down grab rails fitted on either side of the toilet.
4. Wheelchair Stores
Wheelchair stores should also be included in SEN school designs. These are rooms designated for wheelchair and powerchair storage, so that class bases aren’t full of equipment that isn’t being used. These stores should be next to the classroom so that it is quick and easy for caregivers and other members of staff to get the student’s wheelchair or powerchair. Ideally, these stores should be fitted with charging devices so that powerchairs can be recharged whilst the students are in class.
5. Hydrotherapy Pool
Hydrotherapy pools are a great investment for any SEN school. Much like sensory rooms, hydrotherapy pools can be a source of stimulation and enjoyment for children with learning difficulties. They can be custom-built and fitted with features like water jets, colour changing lights, whirlpools and music to make the entire experience even more relaxing and interesting.
We recommend that stainless steel hydrotherapy pools be installed in SEN schools. They’re cheaper to manufacture, install, and maintain, making them a much better long term investment. Stainless steel is also much more hygienic and better for infection control standards. A cast stainless steel pool has no hidden cracks or crevices where bacteria can harbour and grow. This makes it much safer for multiple pupils to use, without the worry of them catching bugs from one another.
We strongly believe that these 5 things are integral to creating a good, stimulating environment within a SEN school. These steps can make a child’s learning experience all the more comfortable and interesting, ensuring that they enjoy everything their school has to offer. If you’d like further advice on SEN school hoisting layouts and hydrotherapy pools, then get in touch with us. We’d be happy to help on any project!